In Andrew Ahn’s feature length debut Spa Night, our main character David is introduced hunched over in a dimly lit sauna, a towel draped over his head. The sound mix emphases his heavy, sighing breath, which is audible but blocked by the weight of the towel. In this 2016 Sundance competition film, towels become a provocative motif, suffocating expression and concealing desire.. At the intersection of his existence as a second generation Korean American and a fledgling queer man exploring his sexual desires, pressure hits at David from multiple angles. The admiring but unenthusiastic praise which has greeted Spa Night’s release is a recognition of Ahn’s exciting early command of framing and craft, but fails to truly meet this remarkable film on its own level, that of a profoundly emotional, and refreshingly serious point of view. Jump on in! The water’s fine...
Entries in Best Actor (181)
As you will undoubtedly understand, I'm not up to speed at the moment. But I find a weird comfort in list-making and cine-dreaming, wondering what our next batch of Oscar contenders will look like. Will it be a great vintage or a weak one? Or, more usual, a weird combo of both. It's far too early to tell though we're hopeful. As I was wandering aimlessly around the web this morning I found this very enjoyable video from Ali Benz ranking all Oscar acting nominees this decade. Like a moving scrapbook of Oscar's classes for the past six years (2010-2015). Some things about the order make me so crazy but that is the joy and discussability of list-making.
Here's the video and after the jump I'll rank them all myself. Busywork is good for me today.
I trust you're all Netflixing today to prepare for Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "The Get Down" tonight. We've missed Baz Luhrmann, haven't you? Netflix hasn't announced its September availabilities yet but here are a few things that just arrived as well as a few you'll need to watch quickly, if you have any desire, as they expire shortly. Let's freeze frame them at random places and see what turns up, shall we?
NEW TO NETFLIX
She will now lay her eggs - eggs with a truly remarkable destiny.
Flight of the Butterflies (2012)
That sounds uneccessarily dramatic, like it's a tagline for a butterfly blockbuster. This is, you guessed it, a documentary on butterflies. Pretty pretty.
(seven more movies after the jump)
The July Oscar prediction chart updates are complete! You're welcome. Each chart has been updated (but for foreign film but we start building the submission tables now). With the acting charts newly updated you'll see new predictions we're trying on for size (Jessica Sloane for Miss Sloane and Naomie Harris for Moonlight) and significant chart gains for the casts of three pictures (which affects the supporting actor chart most) Love and Friendship, Loving and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.
Here are some questions TFE is asking its Oscar Crystal Ball. Care to answer them in the comments?
• Which sci-fi picture is more likely to be garner acting praise: Passengers with Jennifer Lawrence or Arrival with Amy Adams? Or neither since sci-fi pictures are rarely regarded, right or wrong, as "actor's pictures"?
• Do you think Love & Friendship can muster up an acting campaign to capitalize on its sleeper arthouse hit status?
• Why is buzz around Martin Scorsese's Silence so quiet and does this mean anything for its formidable male actors?
• Will Fences be seen as just the Viola & Denzel show or will it be a force in Supporting Actor? And can Denzel win a third Oscar, tying Daniel Day Lewis, Walter Brennan, and Jack Nicholson?
• Can Sony Pictures Classics make a critical cause of or controversy 'must-see' event out of Paul Verhoeven & Isabelle Huppert's pairing in Elle?
• When will filmmakers quit wasting Oscar caliber actresses as "concerned wife on phone" and "inquisitive wife at kitchen table"? (Actually this last one is rhetorical. No need to answer lest we all weep.)
Is there such thing as the male America's sweetheart? If there is then Tom Hanks would surely have to be him. The general public love him, your mum loves him, cinephiles love him, his co-stars love him, and cinematic history definitely loves him. To say Happy Birthday let's say T-Hanks for 5 of the best characters he's gifted us after the jump...
Halfway Mark Festivities begin now! It's never too early to start thinking about year-end lists. If you keep a list all year long, you make better choices at year's end. Unlike The Academy we don't believe that the film year begins in October. So let's name the best male performances and achievements from the first half of the year.
Disclaimer: Notable films I missed that might have factored in to these categories but that I'll have to catch up with on DVD include 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Nice Guys.
NOTABLE MALE PERFORMANCES
(January through June, 2016 - U.S. Theatrical Releases)
Best Leading Actor
- Alfredo Castro as "Armando" in From Afar
One of world cinema's most dependably unnerving actors but his performances are never copies. (He's also great in the predatory priests drama The Club also released this year)
- Colin Farrell as "David" in The Lobster
This underpraised actor continues to push himself when similarly famous stars would have long ago started coasting. Just wonderful as this lovelorn but surprisingly amoral sadsack
- Jake Gyllenhaal as "Davis" in Demolition
Can someone please start giving him films that can keep up with him? He's been on such a tear. Get him while he's at his peak!
- Daniel Radcliffe as "Manny" in Swiss Army Man
Though it's not much of a high-bar to proclaim this Harry Potter's best performance, that doesn't negate the compliment. Radcliffe does wonders with the weird constrictions of the role, never over or underplaying this corpse that talks, marvels, and learns and yearns for love
- Ferdia Walsh-Peelo as "Cosmo" in Sing Street
He's a major find, superbly charting Cosmo's growing confidence and musical passion.
Four more categories after the jump...
Sing Street, the latest film from our most musician obsessed auteur John Carney, has been expanding with more theaters each week at a fairly strong clip. Six weeks in, there's no expansion (a very crowded weekend) but its fanbase keeps growing exponentially as more people "discover" it. Like Carney's previous music-based indies, the Oscar winning, transcendently low-fi Once and the more mainstream but surprisingly rewatchable Begin Again, whatever you might want to say about Sing Street an adjective that could safely and accurately describe all three films is "endearing"...